COVID-19 Vaccination: Where Are We Now?
Ending this week our Ag employers are facing new challenges and questions during the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. Here is where we are now: statewide California is vaccinating healthcare workers and long-term care residents under Phase 1A and elderly California residents and critical infrastructure sectors including food and agriculture under Phase 1B, as supplies allow.
Just as we saw with the wave of regulations and guidance in early 2020, state and federal agencies are rolling out information much the same on vaccine mandates and administration. To date, the EEOC has issued guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine (as we previously reported on here) and more recently, Cal/OSHA. In a public hearing just yesterday, Cal/OSHA planted a tickler that we can expect changes to its Emergency Temporary Standards regulations to address the COVID-19 vaccine. At the federal level, the CDC has issued a COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for essential workers and employers that can be accessed here.
Based on the guidance received, employers are allowed to mandate vaccines so long as they properly exempt and accommodate employees with disabilities or those employees with a sincerely-held religious belief. Failure to engage in the interactive process with these employees may result in a violation under the ADA or Title VII. In addition, employers should be aware of the following:
- Where an employer requires vaccination for its employees, the employer must compensate employees for all time spent getting vaccinated. Failure to do so, may result in wage and hour violations and lawsuits.
- If an employee receives an off-site vaccine, the employer may request receipt but must inform the employee not to provide any medical information.
- Even if all employees are properly vaccinated, employers and employees are still required to use PPE, such as face-coverings, in the workplace consistent with the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
We will continue to monitor state and federal guidance and keep you updated with any and all developments. We can expect that the DLSE will issue its own guidance along with further changes from Cal/OSHA. In the meantime, employers should prepare and implement a written policy regarding COVID-19 vaccinations so that employees know what to expect when the vaccine rollout arrives. If you have any question about creating and implementing a vaccination policy, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, P.C.